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Going Hands-Free - 5 Watches That Tell Time... Differently

By Elise Nussbaum


5 watches that forgo the classic hour and minute hands and take a different approach to telling the time.
Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Mysterious Hour
Rotonde de Cartier Mysterious Hour
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Rotonde de Cartier Mysterious Hour
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Cartier is no stranger to the mystery mechanism, having long ago created clocks whose hands seemed to whirl in midair. The legacy continues with the Rotonde de Cartier Mysterious Hour, which harbors a subdial at 9 o’clock upon a tessellated backdrop of stone marquetry. With a subtle row of diamonds set into the bezel, this model presents time with the ultimate show of restraint.

Jaeger-LeCoultre Hybris Artistica mystérieuse - Men's timepieces
Hybris Artistica Mystérieuse - Men's timepieces
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Jaeger-LeCoultre Hybris Artistica Mystérieuse - Men's timepieces
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Delicacy is not always a selling point for men’s watches—they are usually marketed as “rugged” or even “virile”—but the astounding openworked construction of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s men’s Hybris Artistica mystérieuse conjures up visions of ancient mosaics, Gothic stained glass or even lace. Wholly enveloping the piece, the motif adorns the dial face, caseback, sides and even interior with a commitment that showcases the Swiss brand’s mastery of decorative métiers d’art. And what is so “mystérieuse” about this piece? The lack of hands, which hints at an ingenious technical approach to time display: a golden triangle on a rotating inner ring indicates the minutes, while a stunning flying tourbillon slowly traverses the dial, its position marking the hours. A spectacular tour de force of horological skill and craftsmanship, this piece is limited to just five models.

Louis Vuitton Escale Worldtime
Escale Worldtime
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Louis Vuitton Escale Worldtime
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Vibrantly decorated with tiny emblems representing each time zone the world over, Louis Vuitton’s Escale Worldtime does its job with an intricate series of rotating, concentric discs. A central triangular form on the face resolves into a yellow pointer (like a beam of light shooting up into the sky) that indicates hours, minutes and time zone as they line up at 12 o’clock. Bon voyage!

Jacob & Co. Brilliant Mystery Pavé Diamonds
Brilliant Mystery Pavé Diamonds
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Jacob & Co. Brilliant Mystery Pavé Diamonds
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“How did they DO that?” The question may come to your lips not only because of the mystery mechanism that powers the hands-free dial, but also the sea of invisibly set baguette diamonds that coat the exterior—and even the interior!—of this breathtaking model.

Greubel Forsey Art Piece 2 - Edition 1
Art Piece 2 - Edition 1
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Greubel Forsey Art Piece 2 - Edition 1
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Greubel Forsey is so confident in its mastery that its Art Piece 2 - Edition 1 spends most of the time concealing its hours and minutes display. A push on the button mounted on the case middle snaps the shutter open when necessary, but the end aesthetic effect centers the attention on the watchmaker's exquisite tourbillon at one o'clock.